“Whatever the outcome, we (the residents and the LPOA) presented a well thought out position to the Ontario Municipal Board, and in so doing clearly indicated the community’s concerns and the areas where the proposal was in contravention of the city’s Official Plan.” (Doug Obright’s reflection on the three-day OMB hearing for 146-150 Laird Dr., Feb. 29 to March 2.)
“Whatever the outcome.” Yes indeed! Unfortunately the events that transpired before and during the OMB hearing have led the LPOA to make an official complaint about the conduct of the Board Member:
“In the interests of justice and fairness, we request that the Environment and Land Tribunal Ontario review the conduct of the adjudicator in this case”.
What is the subject of the official complaint?
First, in our view, the Board Member should have recused herself as adjudicator for this hearing, since she was the adjudicator for a previous hearing involving the LPOA following which the LPOA submitted a complaint regarding her conduct.
Second, the LPOA and residents were in our view deprived of their right to a fair hearing, and any possibility of reclaiming that right, given the Board’s decision to refuse the LPOA’s request that it be given (higher level) Party status, as opposed to (lower level) Participant status.
The case involved an appeal by the developer (VIVA Retirement Communities) of the City of Toronto’s refusal of a zoning by-law amendment to permit the construction of an eight-storey rental retirement building and an eight-storey condominium intended for seniors. It proposed the partial demolition of a heritage office building (150 Laird), the former headquarters of the Durant Motor Car Company, and the demolition of the other office building (146 Laird).
To try and make a long story short:
- The LPOA registered as a Participant at a pre-hearing conference (September 2015) but left open its request to become a Party if required.
- The LPOA supported the city’s staff report that recommended refusal of the application, which was approved by city council later in September 2015.
- The LPOA agreed with the city’s Issues List and told the OMB that it would not (need to) request Party status.
- The LPOA (together with 10 other Participants) submitted its Participant Statement as required (Jan. 29, 2016).
- The LPOA met with city staff on Feb. 1 and learned that the city had agreed to settle with the applicant on two key issues (heritage, traffic and transportation).
- The LPOA wrote city legal staff, copy to the OMB, requesting information on the “settlement” and put the city, the applicant and the OMB on notice that the LPOA would be forced to formally request Party status at the hearing, as a result of the city’s settlement.
- On Feb. 26, the last business day before the hearing, plans “issued for OMB settlement” were provided to the LPOA by the city.
- At the hearing on Feb. 29, at the first opportunity, the LPOA requested of the Board Member (1) deferral of the hearing due to the apparent settlement of heritage, and traffic and transportation between the applicant and the city; and (2) that the LPOA be accorded Party status.
- The Member refused the request to defer on the grounds that it would disrupt the hearing that had started, and refused the LPOA request to become a Party.
- The Member stated that in the circumstances we needed to have filed a motion after being advised that the city had partially settled with the applicant. The Member stated that if we wanted to object to her decision we could do so.
- Later the same day, the LPOA requested the Member to clarify what she meant by “object”. She said that she was referring to the OMB Complaint Procedure, and that “you already know about this”. This indicated to me that the Board Member clearly recognized that she had been the subject of a previous complaint by the LPOA.
So we wait for the outcome, whatever it is. But given the unfair situation, the LPOA will be considering its options and may decide to take this further. What would you do in the circumstances?
Those with the biggest stake in the outcome are of course the residents of Randolph. We thank them for their strong support and active role in the hearing.
We also thank Paul Denter, president of the Lincoln Continental Owners Club of Canada, for his assistance. Denter, a driver at Humphrey Funeral Home on Bayview, has an interest in pre-war cars that extends to the companies that built them here in Canada.
He is concerned about losing Canadian car industry landmarks and was at the OMB to add a passion for automotive history to the hearing.